The Tipping Point on Frequency

I swore off Stella Artois beer years ago because they ambushed me on YouTube one peaceful Sunday morning while I was trying to relax. Stella took over every pre-roll position, regardless of the content.

History has proven the human psyche can’t tolerate repetition. People have developed torture techniques using sonic or physical repetition—even something gentle like water drops.

Hulu and Tiffany

Streaming a show on Hulu the other night, my wife and I were were invaded by a Tiffany ad featuring Beyonce and Jay-Z to the tune of “Moon River”. I’m not a fan of either performer, but I was still intrigued by the ad…at first. But every break started with this commercial. Here is how my mind deteriorated with each exposure:

  • Exposure 1: (Thinking) Wow, what a beautifully produced commercial
  • Exposure 2: (Thinking then Googling): What song is that? Oh, Moon River!
  • Exposure 3: (Conversation) Me: “Nice private jet!” My wife: “Look at that diamond!”
  • Exposure 4: (Thinking) I love those last three piano chords in the song.
  • Exposure 5: (Conversation) Me: “Is this the only commercial Hulu is running in this program?”
  • Exposure 6: (Thinking) Again?
  • Exposure 7: (Conversation) Jokingly before the commercial break: “Get ready for “Moon River”
  • Exposure 8: (Conversation) Me to my wife: “Please, Tiffany and Hulu, figure this out!”
  • Exposure 9: (Thinking) Hopefully this will make my wife hate Tiffany, because I can’t afford Tiffany

Luckily, for Tiffany, they have a storied past with a strong brand. It would take more than Beyonce/Jay-Z overload to tear that down. But, in the moment, it was a bad user experience.

It’s a shame that Tiffany would shell out that much money to produce an amazing spot and then allow Hulu to ruin it by something so simple and old school: frequency.

As we get hung up in the many new and developing metrics, frequency is still powerful. In fact, it has the power to destroy.

What can we do about it?

  • Set frequency caps for ads at 1, then 2, then 3 and so on to see where engagement begins to deteriorate.
  • Partner with brand study vendors to learn optimal frequency for awareness and preference
  • There’s an algorithm for everything. Set your campaigns to optimize frequency automatically while considering optimal frequency

It can get even more challenging for targeting smaller audiences.

Advertisers should consider the pitfalls of high frequency. Ads shown to users who have grown neutral or annoyed is wasted media budget. Beyond that, budget invested for great creative is wasted as that creative deteriorates in the eyes of the audience.

The best agencies pay attention to detail. And this means keeping a finger on that frequency dial.

Check out Tiffany’s ad here!

This post was written by Rich Santos, Vice President of Digital.

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